By Hannah Amini
Last weekend, Hellotittie invited Honeysuckle and Honeysuckle Girl to their 2nd Annual Creative Chicks Art Event. Dedicated to empowering women through entertaining online content, personal interviews, and outreach events, Hellotittie provided a platform for a group of twelve female artists to showcase their talent.
The event took place in a bright studio in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with a diverse collection of work ranging from romantic portraits, to graphic pop art, to edgy photo collages. The artists stood proudly by their pieces, ready to share their work and answer questions.
The first artist I spoke to was Murjani Holmes, a recent college graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University. Though her education and current position as a technical designer at American Eagle focus largely on fashion, she has always gravitated toward painting and decided that a move to New York would allow her to freely pursue the two.
As she pointed to her pieces to describe her inspiration, a large tattoo of a dog on her forearm caught my eye. As I complimented it, she immediately pulled her phone out of her pocket and showed me her case: a green plastic shell with the same dog, this time hand-painted with heavy strokes of vibrant color under layers of black geometric detailing. She laughed and said, “If no one is going to showcase my work, I might as well do it myself!” Inclusive events in the art industry are few and far between, as described by Holmes and the other featured artists.
Holmes was one of two artists who participated in the live painting segments. While her inspiration for the pieces she had on display was well thought out, she admitted that painting live had more of a fluid process. She does always start with a small point of direction, though, usually a picture. The conversation went back to her recent move to Bed-Stuy, where she described her apartment as still filled to the brim with boxes. Her inspiration for today came from a magazine that was sticking out from one of these boxes. She balanced the torn-out page on her arm as she painted with laser-focus among the bustling guests.
The proceeds of the event went to She’s the First, a charity that fights gender inequality through education by providing scholarships to girls who will be first-generation graduates. As a first-generation American, artist Ivette Urena felt personally connected to the cause. Ivette began painting as a child to express her creativity. Years later, she describes her process as a form of therapy and cultural connection to deal with past sexual traumas and identity issues. Ivette focuses on her roots in the Dominican Republic in her series “Mi Tierra.”
“I’ve been having this urgency to go back there after going once when I was ten. It was nice to be able to escape my day-to-day trauma.”
The simplicity of life she witnessed during her visit brought her peace and comfort, and she depicts this through paintings depicting daily tasks of making Yucca bread, washing clothes in the river, and preparing coffee. I noticed that the women in the paintings were faceless, and this seemingly minor observation lead Ivette to share her main goal with the series.
“There’s this souvenir doll that is still very popular today in the Dominican Republic. Dominican women have such different features that the original artist decided to leave it faceless, so that anyone could relate. I brought one back with me and decided to recreate it in my style, so that anyone could look at my art and see themselves and relate in their own way.”
In between interacting with artists and their work, guests enjoyed amenities that perfectly fit the Hellotittie brand. Refreshments included literal cupcakes—nipple piercings and all—as well as rosé and Owl’s Brew Radler’s refreshing tea beer. Across the room was a dedicated photo space with a playful arrangement of balloons and beach balls for the perfect Instagram moment. Throughout the night, the Hellotittie team took time to interact with guests, further promote the featured artists, and hold raffle giveaways from sponsors including Hard Candy, A Shop of Things, Rizos Curls and Sinful Colors.
After taking in the art and atmosphere of the events, guests soon lined up to purchase pieces of their choice, as well as Hellotittie merchandise. Among those in line was none other than Whoopi Goldberg. She was thrilled to receive an invitation to a cause for young women, and even more thrilled to bask in their talents. Her excitement for the future of powerful women showed as she described this.
“I was like, ‘Oh shit, this is really good!’ Sometimes you come to these things and the art is okay, but everything here is so good.”
So here’s to the ladies. To echo Hellotittie’s motto, when women support each other, incredible things happen.
To learn more about Hellotittie, Creative Chicks, and women’s empowerment, visit hellotittienyc.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn about She’s the First and programming for girls’ education, visit shesthefirst.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
For information about Murjani Holmes’s work, visit murjart.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram. For information about Ivette Urena, visit ivetteurena.com or follow her on Instagram at @lovelyive_art.
Hannah Amini is a New York-based writer. She studies journalism and design at The New School and recently became a Fashion Editorial intern at Vogue. For more about her work, visit hannahamini.com or follow her on Instagram at @hannahamini.
*As first published in Honeysuckle Girl